DEFRA has confirmed a case of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in a backyard poultry flock near Hawes, North Yorkshire.

It is the first time the strain has been confirmed in poultry in the UK this year although it has been found in wild birds.

See also: 4 key things to know about a free-range poultry housing order

It is a European strain of the virus and not related to the Asian strain that can infect humans.

Public Health England (PHE) has stressed that the risk to the public’s health from all four of the virus strains which have been found in England (H5N2, H5N8, H5N5, H5N1) is very low.

Movement restrictions have been put in place around the site, but it is not thought there are many commercial producers close to the affected flock.


The Scottish Government confirmed a separate case of H5N8 on a small commercial flock of free-range birds on Sanday Island, Orkney.

It marks the first case in Scotland and demonstrates that the virus has been carried by wild birds across the whole of the British Isles.

The outbreaks follow two cases confirmed last week in captive birds – one at a premises near Willington, South Derbyshire and one close to Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire.

On 14 December a housing order came into place across Great Britain, meaning poultry keepers must not allow birds to range, in an attempt to reduce the risk of infection.